We may be a little way from the Black Friday weekend, but now is the time to be thinking about your campaigns and laying the ground work. Last year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day ever in the US, and this year could well exceed those expectations.
One of the key foundations that a big Black Friday is built upon is email. Getting your email strategy right will give your business the best chance of winning over new customers and bringing long-term customers back to your store. Any good email strategy is built upon having good deliverability, and therefore getting this right ahead of time is essential.
All that hard work building carefully-planned email campaigns to different customer segments, which are all personalized to each individual’s tastes and preferences will be for nothing if your emails aren’t even reaching your customers’ inboxes.
Combine this with the fact that Apple’s Privacy updates mean that a large proportion of your open rates will be unpredictable – more on this here – and there are a number of things you need to get right for November.
One of the essential things to remember with mailbox providers is they expect a level of consistency in email sending. This is why it is recommended to warm up email lists with smaller batches to start with before increasing the volume. Sudden and large increases in email sends will raise suspicions and may result in some providers marking emails as spam. Because there are so many email scammers around, anything that looks like spammers or fraudsters can automatically trigger this information.
Black Friday is a prime period where email volumes will skyrocket, both from increased broadcast emails, but also automated email confirmations. Here are some things to consider to safely increase the email volumes:
You should always ramp up your send volumes over the course of several sends. A good rule of thumb is to avoid sending more than double your average. So working backwards from what your peak is going to be over Black Friday, you should look to slowly increase your send volumes so it doesn’t become such a notable spike, potentially triggering spam filters.
To maximize your sales during the Cyber Weekend, there is a natural impulse to send as many emails to as many contacts as you have in your database. This naturally means that you may include subscribers who subscribed a long time ago and who do not regularly receive emails from you. This poses a risk as it might mean that the quality of your sends goes down as your engagement metrics will take a hit.
You may find that you have an increase in user complaints, unsubscribes, as well as spam inbox placement. Because the top email providers experience such a surge in emails being sent through their servers, this can mean that email campaigns with lower engagement will be more likely to hit spam folders rather than inboxes.
On top of this, if you haven’t sent emails to certain contacts for a while, you can run the risk that the emails are no longer valid, and so increase the number of email bounces. As well as this, emails that are no longer being used can be turned into a spam trap, so there is a considerable risk to your deliverability.
See our post on why these customers may have ‘lapsed’ or become inactive, along with tips to get them to re-engage, minimising the chances of your eye-catching campaigns hitting the spam bin. Data hygiene is especially critical in the run up to Black Friday.
An example may look like: if your day-to-day sends are to contacts who opened or clicked an email in the last 6 months but the criteria for re-engagement segments are for those who haven’t opened or clicked in 12 months, you should craft a specific campaign for those who last engaged between 6 – 12 months ago.
Black Friday is obviously a highly competitive time, and one of the ways that retailers compete with one another is around how early they release their first deals in the weeks leading up to the crucial weekend.
Some shoppers will take advantage of offers as soon as they are available, so will jump on emails sent early on in the lead up to Black Friday, while others will wait until the last few days in the hope for bigger and bigger discounts.
Therefore marketers have to strike a balancing act to try and keep those shoppers who shop early engaged, in the hope they might return to shop again, but at the same time not bombard those customers who are waiting. If customers start switching off, and not engaging with your emails, then your campaigns later on in the period can start going into spam and missing out on a big offer they were waiting for.
If you are going to start sending messages early, here are some things you need to bear in mind:
To round up, deliverability is an essential part of your Black Friday and Cyber Weekend planning. To make sure you are reaching as many of your target segments as possible you need to consider the below points as you make your final tweaks.